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Opening the Mind’s Eye

17 October 2017

From No Shelf Required:

Reading by ear allows for a variety of other activities likely to require sight—running, driving, frosting birthday cakes—or no physical access to sight at all—after all, American audiobook publishing was born of the needs of blind readers. However, as with most things in life, there is a middle way: the opportunity for the sighted, or those with memory of the capacity to engage the world with their eyes, to use no organ other than ears and imagination to conjure the visual elements of what is being read. Eyes can be closed so that even the more or less automatic use of physical vision to track print across a page or screen comes out of play.

To read with the ears in this state of unaccompanied eye input is to give an open field to the images and colors the words and phrasings themselves evoke in the mind. This allows the full measure of works rich in such visual recreations to take center stage within, an experience that can be, in seriousness as well as punnery, heady and exhilarating.

. . . .

To hear this collection, [In Sunlight or In Shadow] and to do so without using the listener’s eyes elsewhere, to simply keep them closed, presents such fully formed and richly detailed sights within the mind’s eye that they become unforgettable. Dreamscape (2017) made use of a full cast to record the stories and each reader’s pacing is such that the imagistic constructions created by the authors receive every bit of light or shadow they warrant, every stroke of Hopper’s muted but frequently sunwashed paints. Hopper’s paintings, of course, are rich with narrative and narrative potential. Adding the layer of writers’ word frames and sculpting takes them to new and even more potent possibilities. Then, to come full circle and remove the reader’s own organ of vision to replace it with the tones of voice throws the listening reader onto a reserve of insight some individuals may find startling as well as intoxicating.

Link to the rest at No Shelf Required

PG has never read any of Georgette Heyer’s books, but on long auto trips with Mrs. PG, he very much enjoys listening to Heyer’s detective novels, so his particular mind’s eye is openable on an interstate.


3 Comments to “Opening the Mind’s Eye”

  1. PG, I wouldn’t be able to drive and listen to an audio book. They put me to sleep. What I’m hoping someone invents is an audio book that knows when the listener nods off and saves that listener’s place in the book.

  2. I have a central auditory processing disability that limits what I can absorb and remember of what I hear. In addition, listening to a book being read would involve my constant judging of the voices and how well the material is being read. In other words, constant distraction.

    It also occurs to me that if you like a book well enough for repeat rereads, the auditory experience is going to be exactly the same each time, with no room for your own, new, interpretations. So much for enriching the imagination.

  3. Ashe Elton Parker

    I have difficulty with listening to books when I’m doing other things. I literally must sit absolutely still and concentrate on the audio, or I miss chunks of the book. I finished one ebook that way–after repeatedly losing track of what was going on in the audiobook. Listening to audiobooks isn’t fun for me at all. LOL

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